Failure

We’ve invited a guest speaker to our church next month. His bio says that he’s a “husband, dad, friend, big sinner enjoying an even bigger grace, unlikely pastor, wanna-be-musician, writer-at-times, a guy with an odd sense of humor (ask my wife).”

When I sent out an email with the bio to our church, I received a confused response. “I noticed that you wrote after saying he is a great dad, friend, it says big sinner. I think you want to say singer?”

He may indeed be a big singer, but what I wrote is no mistake. His bio says that he’s a big sinner. And I love that about him. As Nate Larkin wrote of his ministry, he “talked about his own sin in the present tense and celebrated the mercy of God every Sunday.”

It seems that some of us aren’t used to leading with our sins and our failures. Not everyone writes a bio like our guest speaker, or, as another example, this one:

Jared is not a catalytic "agent of change" or a visionary anything. He is a failed church planter and once made a mess of his marriage. He likes food too much and worries way too much about what people think, and he's definitely not all that he's cracked up to be. After 20 years of ministry, he's mainly learned that he's kind of a nincompoop. But he knows Jesus loves him.

A Princeton professor is in the news this week because he posted a CV of failures. He listed all the “degree programs I did not get into,” the “academic positions and fellowships I did not get,” and the “paper rejections from academic journals.” It’s a CV of setbacks and failures. It sounds like something the apostle Paul did (2 Corinthians 11:30). And I love it.

Dan Allender once wrote:

To the degree you face and name and deal with your failures as a leader, to that same extent you will create an environment conducive to growing and retaining productive and committed relationships in ministry. Sometimes the quickest path up is down, and likewise, the surest success comes through being honest about failure.

Let’s start being honest with our failures. It’s a good antidote to image management, and a great door to creating safety and honesty for others.

Six Benefits of Visiting Other Churches

Our church meets on Sunday afternoons. That’s meant that I am free on Sunday mornings, and am able to visit other churches. Over the past four years, I’ve visited dozens of churches in Toronto and beyond.

I know that not everyone is free on Sunday mornings, and I don’t encourage skipping the worship services at your own church. But everyone has the opportunity to visit other churches. You can attend some that meet when you don't, or when you're out of town on vacation.

Here are six benefits to doing so.

It feeds your soul. I invariably show up with a mental clipboard ready to evaluate the service. Within moments, I find myself dropping the clipboard and entering into worship. I benefit from worshiping with God’s people, sitting under God’s Word, and from fellowship. I’m spiritually hungry.

It strengthens relationships. Christ Presbyterian Nashville includes a great page on their website called “Like-Minded Churches.” They recommend other great churches in the city, and include the hashtag #sameteam. The more that we strengthen relationships with other like-minded churches in our area, and cheer each other on, the better.

It allows you to pray for them with greater knowledge. I keep a prayer list of other pastors and churches, and pray for them regularly. Visiting their churches helps me know how to pray for them with greater knowledge.

It’s encouraging. When you see God at work in churches of different ages, in different locations, and with different styles, it’s a lot harder to get discouraged.

You will learn something. Although I’ve dropped my mental clipboard, I always learn something that I can apply within my own ministry.

It sometimes scares me. One prominent pastor visits a church that’s lost the gospel every year as a way to remind himself to guard the good deposit that’s been entrusted to him (2 Timothy 1:14).

If you’re not in the habit of visiting other churches, I’d encourage you to do so when you’re able. You, and the wider church, will benefit.

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Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

Saturday Links

Links for your weekend reading:

Thoughts on the Rise and Fall of Pastors

Pastors are prime candidates for relational isolation, emotional turmoil, and moral collapse.

Self-Promoting Wolves or Selfless Shepherds?

I started thinking more about the leaders who have made the greatest impression upon me throughout my life. I came up with four characteristics that were universal.

Church Planters and the Cost of Starting a Church

In releasing these findings, our hope is to liberate planters to have open and honest conversations about their financial reality — and that those conversations will lead to innovative ideas that advance the church planting movement into a season of unparalleled health and growth.

5 Future Trends of Church Planting

  1. Becoming more technical and strategic.
  2. Becoming more urban.
  3. Becoming more modular.
  4. Becoming more bi-vocational.
  5. Becoming more diverse.

3 Reasons You Should See Going to Church As a Privilege, Not a Chore

Here are three ways we should see gathering with God’s people as privilege.

Themelios 41.1

The Gospel Coalition just released the April 2016 issue of Themelios, which has 208 pages of editorials, articles, and book reviews.

1 Comment

Darryl Dash

Darryl Dash is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, Heritage Theological Seminary, and Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary. He’s married to Charlene, and has two children, Christina and Josiah. Darryl is currently planting Liberty Grace Church in Liberty Village, Toronto. He previously served as pastor of Richview Baptist Church and Park Lawn Baptist Church, both in west Toronto.

21 Quotes from Planting Missional Churches

Here are some of my favorite quotes from the new edition of Planting Missional Churches. For more information, see my review.


I believe in church planting. More to the point for this book, I believe in church planters. (locations 227-228)

There’s no magic formula. (If there were, this would be a really thin book!) (location 240)

In church planting the goal isn’t to plant the coolest church or do things that have never been done before, but it’s always to reach people, be on mission, and be about the kingdom of God. (locations 264-265)

It’s possible to be a missionary without ever leaving your city. (locations 275-276).

Church planting is essential. Without it Christianity will continue to decline in North America. (locations 339-340)

Since God is a missional God, his church should be as well. (location 623)

Ultimately our goal is much more than creating a large attendance; it’s making disciples. (locations 749-750).

The most biblical church is the one in which the cross is the only stumbling block for the unchurched. (locations 907-908)

I am convinced you cannot love a city if you do not know a city. And you certainly cannot reach a city if you do not love it. (locations 3117-3118).

Planters should not view bivocational planting as a penalty but as an opportunity. (locations 3655-3656)

Every church planter I’ve known has experienced an attempted vision hijacking within the first three years of the church start. (locations 4465-4466)

Not every pastor is a church planter, but every church planter is a pastor. (locations 4596-4597)

Growth barriers are leadership barriers. (locations 4729-4730)

Evangelism always involves a bloody cross and an empty tomb. It always involves Jesus’ death on the cross for our sin and in our place. (location 4916)

Conversion is an event, but evangelism is helping people on a journey to conversion and then on to maturity. (locations 4969-4970)

Evangelizing lost persons does not happen by accident. The mature church planter will not expect unchurched people to show up for services just because a new church has arrived. (locations 5180-5181)

If knowledge led to evangelism, we would have reached the world years ago. (location 5509)

Many church planters are spiritually bankrupt and strategy rich. (location 5993)

Hold models loosely and the gospel firmly. (location 6987)

The only way you can even attempt to move the people in your church to where God wants them to be is by first ensuring that you are where God wants you to be. (locations 7576-7577)

The best church planters are the ones who realize their ultimate calling is not first and foremost to plant a church but to come to Jesus himself. (locations 7590-7591)

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Planting Missional Churches

When I moved into a condo, only the best books moved with me. To make the cut, a book had to be indispensable.

It says something, then, that I kept Planting Missional Churches by Ed Stetzer. I've consulted it many times as I've planted. Stetzer is a church planting expert. He's planted churches, researched church planting, and consulted with church planters across the globe.

Planting Missional Churches is a good book, but it needed a refresh. May 1 marks the release of a new edition, cowritten by Daniel Im. What's new? Ed and Daniel have changed 50% of the content. They've added new stories, models, and content in every chapter. They've also added five new chapters:

  • Chapter 8: Multiethnic or Monoethnic Churches
  • Chapter 9: Multisite Planting
  • Chapter 27: Residencies and the Future of Theological Education
  • Chapter 28: Denominations and Networks
  • Chapter 30: Spiritual Leadership

They've reorganized the structure of the book, and included new research from the new State of Church Planting study, a research partnership of over a dozen denominations on church planting in the U.S., Canada, and Australia. The book is substantially different than the 2006 edition I moved into my condo.

I've been reading the new edition over the past couple of weeks. It's split into five sections:

  1. The Foundations of Church Planting
  2. The Models of Church Planting
  3. Systems for Church Planting
  4. Ministry Areas for Church Planting
  5. Multiplication and Movements.

It's hard to think of a church-planting topic they don't cover. While this book covers various models of church planting, most of the book is for the traditional vocational North American church planter. There's a wealth of information, though, for anyone.

As I've read the book, I've had three thoughts.

First: these guys know church planting. The topics they cover are the ones that I've wrestled with. I have the feeling that Daniel and Ed understand what a church planter goes through, and they are on my side.

Second: these guys are evenhanded. They not only cover the breadth of thinking around church planting, but they present their own perspective. I generally agree with them, but even when I don't, I have to admit that they are fair and generous in what they write. I appreciate the amount of wisdom that's packed into this book.

Finally: this book is timely. It covers new issues that weren't on the radar ten years ago. I especially appreciate the chapter on multisite planting, and the section on Multiplications and Movements.

I'll share some quotes from the book on Thursday. You can also check out a sample of the book, along with free bonus material.

Planting Missional Churches is a book I'd recommend to anyone who is thinking of planting a church, is planting a church, is training others in planting, or is pastoring and considering planting or multiplication. The new edition has earned a place on my bookshelf, and I'll be consulting it for years to come.

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